Life seems to always pull the rug from under your feet when finals are near, the projects are due and you’re running on the last few fumes before empty. I don’t know about anyone else, but this last year has been one of my personal hardest. With health issues, cancer scares in the family, and many losses – it’s been a constant battle. However, I know this isn’t an unfamiliar story. Everything that happened was a constant reminder that life doesn’t actually stop outside of medical school, which wasn’t a reminder that I thought I needed. So maybe this is something you need, or maybe it’s far from relatable to you. Regardless, when life hands you lemons here’s some of the things that got me through this last year.
First things first: Stop being afraid of the concept of failure. I know this isn’t news, but sometimes it needs to be said (or screamed) again. Overcoming obstacles is healthy, and contrary to popular belief, it’s good for you. It gives you an opportunity to redirect and grow in a way that success could never bring. We’re students, but we’re also medical students, so clearly, we all have enormously high standards and expectations of ourselves or we wouldn’t be here. Embrace the possibility of failing now and stop fearing it. Give it all that you can at that moment and be ready to accept any outcome. It will work out and if not you will figure it out. It’s the fear of failure that gives failure any power at all. This mindset personally brought me more success than failure and made me realize I was so much more capable than I gave myself credit for.
Of course, I’m not saying to give up and float by. Instead give your all, but truly realize that your “all” will change every day. There is not always 100% to give and sometimes you just need to stay in bed. If that’s the case, DO IT! You’re an adult that is paying for this education, take what you need and figure it out from there. With that being said, don’t expect your professors to adapt to you, instead be ready and accepting of the exchange you are making for your rest over those attendance points or weekly quizzes. If you’re really needing the rest, take a day off and come back even better. Take responsibility for what you need and your choices and know the world will not adapt to you, but you’ll be better prepared for it tomorrow.
Prioritize your big assignment. When you’re willing to let go of those 5-point quizzes for some rest the big assignments or exams really matter. Put your big scary tasks at the top of the to do list and work your way down to the easier ones. If you run out of steam before you get to the bottom, less damage will come from it.
There are a million other things that I learned (like sleep really matters and I’m constantly more dehydrated than I think I am – weird) but these are some of the things that took me the longest to allow myself the grace I needed to accept them. All of this is much easier said than done and something I’m sure we can all look at our patients and say, but truly accepting it for ourselves is a whole new challenge.
We’re all becoming doctors (we’re so cool!). Learning to let go, adapt and refocus I’m pretty sure is in our job title and I’m starting to believe it’s the main purpose of medical school. I have nothing truly figured out, however my experiences this year have made me feel more prepared and empathetically connected to patients than any lesson could have, and I wouldn’t change one bit of it. I hope my words find those who need it. I would love to hear from anyone that would like to share something they have learned from their own experiences – lets chat! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org